Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Overestimating Your Capabilities?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Overestimating Your Capabilities?

David Dunning, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Cornell University explains in a Gallup Management Journal article that most people overestimate their capabilities. If you just had enough time, or started earlier enough, incompetent.jpgor had the right gear, you too much just play golf like Tiger or tennis like Vanessa or sing like those folks on American Idol; right? A Business Week survey supports Dunning's finding by noting that 90% of American middle managers believed themselves to be in the top 10% of performers.

We overestimate our capabilities because:

  1. Normally people will claim credit for their success and blame other people or conditions for their failures. As a consequence, the overall sense is one of success.
  2. Feedback from others is often couched in softened terms, may be incomplete or less than honest, and may well not be understood or heard.
  3. Frequently people have no way to know how something could have been done differently or better; they are unconsciously incompetent.

Confidence is energizing and can bring its own rewards. Identifying the blind spots and acting on them can be equally rewarding.

Measuring up.jpgWhether with your boss at annual performance appraisal time, with trusted peers, or with an external coach, asking for feedback remains a key step in identifying improvement areas that you just cannot see.

Today's conventional wisdom suggests that you should build on your strengths. That's very true, but without awareness of our weaknesses and finding ways to mitigate them, you may be winning a battle and losing the war. Strong leadership requires that you set high expectations for yourself and others, and demonstrate the ability for continuous learning and growth.

Executive coaching is a tool that supports the identification of blind spots and the development of successful behaviors and skills. To learn more about this investment in your career and the careers of your employees, contact me at Sherry@ReadSolutionsGroup.com .

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